Omega-6 information, FAQ and product listing page. This page contains everything you need to know about omega-6!
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What is omega-6 and what does it do?
Omega-6 fatty acids are essential to the body. They are essential to the body, but cannot be produced by it – making consumption through the diet necessary. Also referred to as polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFAs, omega-6 fatty acids play a very important role in stimulating skin and hair growth, maintain the health of our bones, regulating metabolism, and maintaining the capability to reproduce.
There are several different kinds of omega-6 fatty acids. Most of the omega-6 fatty acids that are consumed in the diet through vegetable oils are known as linoleic acid (LA) (not to be confused with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which an omega-3 fatty acid). Once in the body, linolenic acid is converted into gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and is further broken down into AA, or arcahidonic acid. AA is able to be consumed by meat, while GLA can be ingested from plant-based oils.
In America, the amount of omega-6 fatty acids consumed is very high, particularly in relation to omega-3 fatty acids. An imbalance of essential fatty acids can contribute to long-term diseases like heart disease, asthma, arthritis, depression, and cancer. A healthy diet should consist of approximately one omega-3 fatty acid to four omega-6 fatty acids. (1:4 ratio)
What foods contain omega-6?
The American diet receives more than enough omega-6 fatty acids because the form of linoleic acid (LA) comprises the primary oil ingredient in most processed foods. It’s also commonly found in cooking oils like corn, cottonseed, soybean, sunflower, and safflower oils.
The omega-6 fatty acid form linolenic acid (GLA) and LA can be found in the plant seed oils of black currant, borage, evening primrose, and fungal oils.
Arachidonic acid (AA) is found in egg yolk, meats, and other animal-based foods.
What is the suggested daily intake of omega-6?
For adults, studies have suggested that a few thousand milligrams of GLA per day can be tolerated by the body. There are different suggested daily intake levels, depending on activity level and if any diseases or conditions are present. Those with diabetes should take 480 mg per day of GLA. For breast tenderness or other symptoms of PMS, take 3,000 to 4,000 mg of EPO per day. If you are unsure about how much omega-6 you should be taking, consult your doctor.
What are the symptoms of omega-6 deficiency?
The deficiency of essential fatty acids affects cell and tissues throughout our body. Nothing in our body can process without them. Symptoms of deficiency include:
- Eczema-like skin eruptions
- Hair loss
- Behavioral changes
- Dry glands
- Male sterility
- Growth retardation
- Dry skin
- Dry Eyes
- Irregular heart beat
Who can benefit from using omega-6 supplements?
Everyone can benefit from taking Omega-6 and as such, should consume it daily. As discussed previously, Omega-6 has a variety of positive health benefits on the body. Additionally though, Omega-6 fatty acids can help combat many common illnesses and health problems including anorexia, ADHD, diabetes, eye disease, osteoporosis, menopausal symptoms, premenstrual syndrome, acne, eczema, alcoholism, allergies, arthritis, cancer, weight loss, high blood pressure, heart disease, tuberculosis, and ulcers.
While everyone should consume essential fatty acids, the following in particular should:
- Women that are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Women with hormonal conditions
- People with dry skin or inflammatory skin conditions like acne or eczema
- Those with high blood pressure or heart disease
- Heavy Drinkers
- Athletes and others that are physically active
Specific benefits to bodybuilders
- Increases stamina
- Improves muscular development
Does omega-6 have any side effects?
There are no serious adverse side effects from taking omega-6 fatty acids. However, there are some precautions and potential interactions that some can experience. Omega-6 should not be taken if you have a seizure disorder. It can cause seizures. Additionally, borage seed oil and other sources of GLA should not be taken during pregnancy because of the risk it causes to the fetus by inducing early labor. Always consult your doctor.
Sources used:Barre DE. Potential of evening primrose, borage, black currant, and fungal oils in human health. Ann Nutr Metab. 2001;45(2):47-57Hederos CA, Berg A. Epogam evening primrose oil treatment in atopic dermatitis and asthma. Arch Dis Child . 1996;75(6):494-497Leventhal LJ, Boyce EG, Zurier RB. Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with black currant seed oil. Br J Rheumatol . 1994;33(9):847-852.Simopoulos AP. Essential fatty acids in health and chronic disease. Am J Clin Nutr . 1999;70(3 suppl):560S-569S.Stoll BA. Breast cancer and the Western diet: role of fatty acids and antioxidant vitamins. Eur J Cancer . 1998;34(12):1852-1856.Wainwright PE. Do essential fatty acids play a role in brain and behavioral development? Neurosci Biobehav Rev . 1992;16(2):193-205.